February 25, 2011

In This Issue


On Feb. 19, the House passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) for the seven months remaining of the Fiscal Year 2011 Appropriations. The CR passed during a rare Saturday morning vote at 4:40 a.m. by an overwhelmingly partisan margin of 235-189. Not a single Democrat supported the Republican-led effort, which includes over $100 billion in cuts.

House Republican leadership allotted an “open rule” amendment process under which 583 amendments were submitted by Members. Eventually, under a unanimous consent agreement, the number was reduced and ultimately 162 amendments were considered on the House floor. Sixty-seven amendments were finally adopted, 54 from Republicans and 13 from Democrats. Eighty-six amendments were either rejected or withdrawn.

Not expecting a compromise before the March 4 expiration of the current CR, the Democratic Senate is expected to introduce a 30-day CR measure retaining funding levels at Fiscal Year 2010 levels. House Republican leadership, however, has declared its opposition to  a short-term extension of funding at FY 2010 levels. Republican leaders intend to introduce a two-week CR next week, containing $4 billion in cuts, which Sen. Reid has in turn rejected as too steep.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued a veto threat against the House-passed measure in its current form: “If the President is presented with a bill that undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions, contains earmarks, or curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation while continuing to burden future generations with deficits, the President will veto the bill.” The two chambers must come to agreement on a CR (whether short-term or long-term) before the current one expires to avoid a shutdown of the federal government.

Environmental Cuts

The base legislation includes a provision by House Appropriations Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) that would remove the grey wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act and block environmental groups from challenging the species’ delisting in court. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), who also serves on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment, has stated he will seek to include the delisting language in the Senate CR that will be debated the week of March 1.

The Ecological Society of America joined the Society for Conservation Biology and several other societies in a letter directed at Hill leaders that voiced strong concern for the process in which this was handled.  “Rapid adoption of such legislation without full public notice and balanced hearings is particularly dangerous, and that is what is now being advanced in the House consideration of the Continuing Resolution to fund the operations of the government.”  See the complete letter at:

The measure slashes Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding by $3 billion, 29 percent below FY 2010 levels. The bill also eliminates Carol Browner’s position of “Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.” The bill includes limitations on the use of funds to implement the Bureau of Land Management’s “Wild Lands” policy established under a December 2010 Secretarial Order as well as restrictions on enforcement of Clean Water Act regulations. House Republicans offered a number of amendments to further prohibit EPA regulatory efforts.

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) offered an amendment prohibiting the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The amendment passed by a vote of 249-177 with 13 Democrats supporting the amendment and two Republicans (Reps. Nan Hayworth (NY) and Dave Reichert (WA)) opposing it.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced an amendment to prevent federal funding from being spent on a total maximum daily load for chemicals or a watershed implementation plan for the Chesapeake Bay. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 230-195. Fifteen Republicans broke with their party to oppose the amendment while eight Democrats supported it.

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) put forward an amendment to prevent EPA from using its funding to implement, administer or enforce new water quality standards for Florida’s lakes and flowing waters, which were issued in November 2010. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 237-189. Seventeen Republicans opposed the amendment while sixteen Democrats supported it.

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) offered an amendment to prevent EPA from using its funding to implement or enforce new guidance for the review of possible water pollution from proposed coal-mining projects. The amendment passed by a vote of 235-185, with eight Democrats voting for the amendment while 10 Republicans opposed it.

Rep. David McKinley introduced an amendment to prevent EPA from developing or issuing standards that list coal ash as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which was adopted by a vote of 239-183. Nineteen Democrats supported the amendment while 18 Republicans voted against it.

Freshman Rep. Kristi Noem, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, put forward an amendment to stop EPA from changing the national ambient air quality standards for coarse particulate matter. While four Republicans opposed the measure, 21 Democrats supported it, allowing the measure to be adopted by a vote of 255-168.

Climate Change

House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) introduced an amendment to prevent the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from funding its planned “climate service.” The amendment passed by a vote of 233-187. Nine Republicans opposed the amendment while six Democrats supported it.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) put forward an amendment to bar federal funding from going to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Nine Democrats endorsed the amendment, while three Republicans opposed it. The measure passed by a vote of 244-179.

Environmental Successes

House Natural Resources National Parks, Forest and Public Lands Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced an amendment to block funding for the National Landscape Conservation System. The amendment garnered swift opposition from conservationists, including the Conservation Lands Foundation, and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) who claimed the amendment would cut off funding for popular visitor areas like Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area. Chairman Bishop subsequently withdrew the amendment and pledged to hold hearings on the issue.

An amendment from Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) to cut $35 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund failed on a narrow 213-216 vote as 32 Republicans broke ranks to oppose the amendment, including House Appropriations Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID). Six Democrats supported the amendment.

Chairman Simpson and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) were among 48 Republicans who opposed an amendment by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to cut $64.1 million from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science and Technology account. The amendment failed by a vote of 199-230 with nine Democrats supporting it. Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) supported the amendment.

An amendment from Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from funding its beach replenishment projects was defeated by an overwhelming 74-348 vote.


On Feb. 14, President Obama released his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2012, which begins Oct. 1, 2011 and ends Sept. 30, 2012. The budget proposal, in line with the “Win the Future” theme laid out in his State of the Union address, carries key investments in a number of science, energy and infrastructure-related agencies and programs. The budget also purports to reduce funding for every increase, in lieu of the president’s pledge to freeze discretionary spending for five years. The $3.7 trillion budget reduces or eliminates 200 federal programs for a savings of $30 billion.

With reductions in programs among virtually every agency, the budget proposal has garnered critique from across the political spectrum and its future in the divided Congress remains uncertain. The timing of the budget’s release as well as the political climate is particularly unique this year, as Congress and the administration are currently mired in debate on how to fund the government for the remainder of the current Fiscal Year of 2011. The government is currently operating on a Continuing Resolution, which expires March 4, 2011. Since Congress never passed a full FY 2011 budget, the current resolution for FY 2011 largely continues federal funding at FY 2010 levels. 

The FY 2012 proposal includes $147.9 billion for federal research and development, an increase of $772 million (0.5 percent) over Fiscal Year 2010. Enclosed are summaries highlighting several agencies that deal with issues related to ecology:

The Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The budget request includes $23.9 billion for the USDA for discretionary spending, a $3.2 billion decrease in the enacted level of $27 billion. USDA’s entire budget authority, when mandatory programs are included, would total approximately $145 billion in FY 2012.

Total funding for FY 2012 includes:

Agricultural Research Service: $1.2 billion, a $109 million decrease from $1.3 billion in FY 2010
National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $1.4 billion, a $120 million decrease from 1.5 billion in FY2010
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: $1.2 billion, a $168 million decrease from $1.3 billion in FY 2010.
Forest Service: $5.9 billion, a 206 million decrease from $6 billion in Fiscal Year 2010.
Natural Resources Conservation Service: $4.5 billion, a $650 million decrease from $3.9 billion in FY 2010.


The Department of Energy (DOE)

The budget request includes $29.5 billion for the Department of Energy, a 12 percent increase over FY 2010:

DOE Office of Science: $5.4 billion, an 11 percent increase over FY 2010
DOE R&D: $13 billion for FY 2012, a 2.2 billion (19.9 percent) increase from FY 2010
Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy:  $550 million (*the initiative was launched in 2009, received $400 million in Recovery Act funding, but no appropriations funding for FY 2010).
Biological and Environmental Research: $718 million, a 22 percent increase over FY 2010.
Renewable Energy Research and Development: 70 percent increase in overall programs including $457 million for solar energy, $341 million for biofuels and biomass R&D and a doubling of geothermal energy to $102 million.


The Environmental Protection Agency

The budget proposes $8.973 billion for EPA in FY 2012, representing about a 13 percent decrease from the FY 2010 budget of $10.3 billion, including:

Air Toxics Initiative: $26.6 million, a $5.1 million increase from $21.5 million in FY 2010.
Carbon Capture and Sequestration: $10.1 million, a $2.2 million increase from $7.9 million in FY 2010.
Chesapeake Bay program: $67.4 million, a $17.4 million increase from $50 million in FY 2010.
Clean Air Act Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Permitting: $30 million (*no funding in FY 2010).
Clean, Green, and Healthy Schools: $4.8 million, up $4.7 million from $100,000 in FY 2010.
EPA R&D: $579 million, an $11 million (1.9 percent) decrease from $590 million in FY 2010
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: $350 million, a $125 million decrease from $475 million in FY 2010.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act: $116.9 million, a $6.4 million decrease from $123.3 million in FY 2010.
State and Local Air Quality Grants: $305.5 million, up $78.9 million from $226.6 million in FY 2010.
Urban Waters: $5.1 million (*no funding in FY 2010).
Water Pollution Control Grants: $250.3 million, up $21 million from $229.3 million in FY 2010.


The Department of Interior

The FY 2012 budget proposal includes $11.2 billion for programs funded by the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. This is $69.2 million, or less than one percent, above the 2010 enacted level and $87.6 million above the 2011 Continuing Resolution (CR) level:

America’s Great Outdoors (AGO): $5.5 billion, includes $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, $375.0 million for Federal land acquisition, $200 million for an expanded LWCF State grants program including competitive grants, and $100 million for Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Grants.
As part of AGO, the 2012 budget maintains $4.6 billion for core operations in the land management bureaus, including the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. It also includes $150 million for Fish and Wildlife conservation grants and $72.4 million for National Park Service partnership programs.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement: $358.4 million, a $119.3 million increase above the FY 2010 enacted level and $134.1 million over the 2011 CR.
Bureau of Reclamation: $1.0 billion, $69.3 million decrease from the 2010 enacted level.
Renewable Energy: $72.9 million, an increase of $13.9 million above the FY 2010 enacted level.
U.S. Geological Survey: $1.1 billion, $6.1 million above the FY 2010 enacted level (*Within the request there are $53.6 million in reductions to ecosystems, mineral resources, water resources, natural hazards, geologic and geospatial, and facilities and maintenance programs).
WaterSMART: $69.8 million, a $9.0 million increase for USGS above the FY 2010 enacted level.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

NOAA would receive a budget of $5.5 billion in FY 2012, an increase of $749.3 million over FY 2010:

Climate Service: $346.2 million (*this is a proposed new agency of NOAA)
National Environmental Satellite Service (NESS): $2 billion in FY 2012, reflecting a net increase of $616.9 million from the FY 2010 enacted level of $1398.5 million.
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS): $1.001 million in FY 2012, reflecting a net decrease of $15.1 million from the FY 2010 enacted level of $1008.2 million.
National Ocean Service (NOS): $559.6 million in FY 2012, reflecting a net decrease of $20.1 million from the FY 2010 enacted level of $578.7 million.
Office of Marine & Aviation Operations (OMAO): $229.3 million in FY 2012, reflecting a net increase of $32.7 million from the FY 2010 enacted level of $196.6 million.
The Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research (OAR): $212.0 million in FY 2012, reflecting a net decrease of $237.1 million from the FY 2010 enacted level of $449.1 million.


The National Science Foundation

The President’s budget request calls for $7.8 billion for the National Science Foundation, a 13 percent increase over FY 2010. The request includes:

U.S. Global Change Research Program: $425.11 million, a 33.2 percent increase from the FY 2010 enacted level of $319.55 million.
Climate Change Technology Program (Interagency effort): $62.96 million, a 144.5 percent increase from FY 2010 to advance climate change research and development technology.
Growth in Research Grants: FY 2012 rRequest would support an additional 2000 research grants, a 27.8 percent increase over the FY 2010 enacted level.
Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE): $12.35 million to integrate new activities with existing NSF investments to “foster and support transformative research through interdisciplinary research (IDR) proposals.”
Research at the Interface of the Biological, Mathematical and Physical Sciences (BioMAPS): $76.14 million to accelerate understanding of biological systems.
National Ecological Observatory Network: $88 million for the second year of construction (*there was no FY 2010 funding for this initiative).
Ocean Observatories Initiative: $103 million for the fourth year of construction, an increase from the 20.19 million enacted in FY 2010.



The House Science, Space and Technology Committee convened Feb. 17 for a hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget request, featuring Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren. Members of Congress questioned Holdren on research programs as well as the administration’s view of climate science.

Individual lawmakers pressed Holdren on the need for strong National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) funding, both to maintain a U.S. edge in the field and to inspire the next generation of scientists. Holdren said the administration is strongly committed to NASA and that the president himself is “excited” about human spaceflight but that budget challenges require a strategic funding approach.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) took Holdren to task for having called scientists who disagree with climate science “deniers.” The only other use of that term, he said, relates to those who question whether the Holocaust took place. Holdren said he had not intended to draw such an analogy and would choose other words in the future.

House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) scolded Holdren and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) for dismissing skeptical scientists as a small minority whose views should not block policies to protect the public from what the majority of scientists agree is human-caused climate change.
Hall also criticized Holder’s suggestions that he hoped to “educate” Republicans on climate change. Holdren countered that he was not speaking about Republicans as a whole and asserted that he wants to inform Members of Congress who believe climate change is not real.

Hall said he plans to summon scientists on both sides of the issue to allow committee members and the public to weigh the evidence for themselves. Chairman Hall stated he will consult with Democrats in deciding who to invite.

– Energy and Environment Daily


On Feb. 16, President Obama announced his implementation plan for the administration’s “America’s Great Outdoors initiative,” which seeks to coordinate several federal conservation programs to increase interaction between Americans and the natural environment.

The report calls for full funding ($900 million) for the Land and Water Conservation Fund; establishing a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps to engage young Americans in public lands and water restoration.  The report highlights the importance of protecting and creating parks and open spaces close to urban centers and increasing access to rivers. It recommends the creation of an America’s Great Outdoors “Urban Parks and Community Green Spaces Initiative” and urges the extension of a tax deduction for conservation easements beyond its scheduled expiration in 2011. The initiative also recommends establishing an interagency council to improve strategic collaboration among federal agencies engaged in conservation and recreation. The report was drawn from over 50 public listening sessions held across the country since last April that drew more than 10,000 participants and 105,000 comments.

The effort is being met with some Republican opposition in Congress. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA), in a committee press statement, criticized the initiative. “It’s concerning that the President is proposing hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending for the federal government to purchase more federal land, even though it cannot properly maintain the land it already owns,” he said.

National Parks, Forest and Public Lands Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) has sought to defund the National Landscape Conservation System, established under the Clinton administration. Chairman Bishop believes the program is unnecessary bureaucracy.

Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has embarked on a three-state tour to highlight the importance of the initiative with visits to New York City, the Florida Everglades and several cities in California.

For additional information on the initiative, see: www.americasgreatoutdoors.gov.


The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment convened Feb. 16 to review a forthcoming regulation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require certain pesticide users to obtain additional environmental permits.

The Supreme Court, in early 2010, decided not to review an April 2009 appeals court ruling, in the case of National Cotton Council v. EPA, that requires EPA to issue additional permits under the Clean Water Act to as many as 300,000 pesticide sprayers nationwide already regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The additional regulation would apply to users who discharge pesticide-laden runoff into nearby waters. The appeals court ruling requires EPA to release its new permitting program by April 2011.

Both Nutrition and Horticulture Subcommittee Chairwoman Jean Schmidt (R-OH) and Ranking Member Joe Baca (D-CA) were in agreement that the ruling would place undue costly burdens on the EPA. Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-NY), however, criticized the committee for presenting a one-sided witness list.

According to Bishop, Democrats tried unsuccessfully to add a representative from the U.S. Geological Survey to testify on a 2006 report on dangerous amounts of pesticides in surface and ground water throughout the country. Bishop also sought to call on the lead attorney in the National Cotton Council case.

Steven Bradbury, director of EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, testified on the effectiveness of EPA’s pesticide regulation under FIFRA, essentially arguing that a secondary permit process was unnecessary. Bradbury also highlighted a 10-year program EPA completed in 2008 that surveyed 600 active ingredients in pesticides. As a result of the survey, a third of those products were deemed unacceptable for use because they may be hazardous to health.

Former Congressman John Salazar (D-CO), currently the commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, testified that the court ruling “contradicts the original intent of Congress” by forcing EPA to issue permits under the CWA for activities already regulated by FIFRA and state pesticide laws. The overall sentiment that the ruling was redundant and would produce economic strain was echoed by the overwhelming majority of the panelists.


In a report to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the U.S. Department of Commerce Inspector General (IG) found “no evidence” that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) inappropriately manipulated data, failed to adhere to its peer review procedures or that the agency violated the Information Quality Act.

The IG examined email exchanges between researchers at the Climate Research Unit and many of the world’s leading climate scientists, including employees of NOAA. Out of the 1,073 e-mails from climate scientists that were stolen from the CRU at the University of East Anglia in late 2009, the IG found 10 that warranted further examination.

One such email included an “inappropriate” image of Sen. Inhofe and other climate skeptics stranded in the ocean on a melting ice cap. The creator of the image stated the intent was to bring some levity to the criticism climate scientists were facing from climate skeptics. According to NOAA, the scientists who circulated the image have been “counseled by their respective supervisors.”

NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco told the IG that she has personally read some of the NOAA-related e-mails, stating she was “relieved because they were at odds with the way they were being publicly portrayed, and I thought that the ones I read [indicated] that NOAA scientists were exercising by and large good judgment and not doing things that were inappropriate” in their scientific work.

The IG report did criticize the handling of four Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding review comments on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, saying NOAA needs to revisit the inadequate responses and perhaps revise its FOIA policy. However, the IG found no evidence in the CRU emails to suggest violation of the Shelby Amendment, which authorizes federally-funded research data to be accessed through the mechanisms set forth in the FOIA.

To view the letter and report, click here:

Sources: ClimateWire, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, the Department of Interior, Environment and Energy Daily, E&E News PM, Environmental Protection Agency, Greenwire, the Hill, House Natural Resources Committee, Las-Vegas Review Journal, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, POLITICO, The Washington Post, The White House